Pitmaster Matt Abdoo’s juicy pulled pork recipe will blow your mind at your next barbecue

Pitmaster Matt Abdoo's juicy pulled pork recipe will blow your mind at your next barbecue

Pork shoulder is easy to cook, frugal, and forgiving of culinary missteps. That makes it the best way for home grillers to learn the basics of barbecuing, says pit master Matt Abdoo.

“Training in how to cook pork shoulder, also known as pulled pork, is one of the best barbecue items because it’s one of the most recognizable iconic dishes in the barbecue world,” he says, adding that it’s also a crowd-pleaser.

Smoking pork shoulder teaches you how to keep your fire, how to pack meat, how to measure tenderness by temperature, and other barbecue basics. Although it shares similarities with other large cuts of meat, such as brisket, it is much cheaper.

Matt Abdoo and Shane McBride’s new cookbook features recipes for the biggest barbecue hits.”

“Ultimately, if your pork shoulder is undercooked or overcooked, it’s a lot more forgiving than a brisket would be,” says Abdoo, who runs Pig Beach BBQ in New York City with Shane McBride.

The two recently released “The Pig Beach BBQ Cookbook: Smoked, Grilled, Roasted, and Sauced” featuring over 50 recipes, including ribs, brisket, and pulled pork (or, as McBride calls them, “barbecue’s greatest hits”). , as well as groundbreaking dishes such as beef rib gnocchi and pastramen (a pork broth ramen with pastrami).

Here’s a look at the pork shoulder recipe book, and all the spices and instructions you need to make juicy pulled pork.

Pork shoulder, also known as Pulled Pork

Pork shoulder (aka pulled pork) recipe from “The Pig Beach BBQ Cookbook: Smoked, Grilled, Roasted, and Sauced.” †

(From: “Pig Beach BBQ Cookbook” by Matt Abdoo and Shane McBride)

Serves 8 to 10


  • 1 (8 to 10 pounds) boneless pork shoulder
  • ½ cup Pre-Seasoning Rub (see below)
  • 2 cups all-purpose barbecue seasoning (see below), plus more for sprinkling
  • 3 cups All-Purpose Barbecue Spritz (see below)
  • 4 cups Tangy Hatch Vinegar Barbecue Sauce (see below)


1. Pat the pork shoulder dry with a clean tea towel. Do not use paper towels as they will disintegrate and stick to the meat.

2. Season the entire shoulder with the rub and let it rest for 30 minutes. The meat will begin to sweat as the salt in the rub draws out the moisture. This allows the seasoning to stick to the meat.

3. Use 1 cup of barbecue seasoning to generously coat the entire shoulder. Set aside to marinate for another 30 minutes.

4. While the shoulder is marinating, use hickory wood and preheat your smoker to 250°F.

5. Place a thermometer probe in the center of the shoulder and place the shoulder in the smoker away from the heat source.

6. Smoke for 1 hour, then begin spritzing with barbecue spray every 30 minutes for the next 4 hours or until internal temperature reaches 155°F. This is the point at which the evaporation rate of the moisture in the meat will cool the shoulder, preventing the temperature from rising.

COMMENTS: Now is the time to apply the “Texas Stool” where the shoulder is wrapped. At Pig Beach we like to wrap it in plastic wrap and foil (see BBQ Bits & Pieces below) as it acts as a sous vide for the poor, trapping all the juices and heat while the wrap helps the meat move through the stall.

When packed, return the shoulder to the smoker and cook for an additional 4 to 6 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 198° to 203° F. Don’t be afraid to stick the thermometer through the package, just put it on the top so the juices don’t run out.

Once the shoulder has reached the desired internal temperature, the meat should have reached the perfect degree of texture and doneness. A visual sign that the shoulder has been cooked properly is that the bone can be easily removed by pulling on it. Remove the shoulder from the smoker and place in a warm place to rest for 1 hour.

Unwrap the pork shoulder and “punch” (a pitmaster’s term for “shred”) the meat to desired size and texture. Garnish with a pinch of barbecue seasoning and serve with the barbecue sauce on the side.

BBQ Bits and Pieces: Wrapping with plastic wrap and foil is a great way to make a super juicy pork shoulder. The downside, however, is that all the beautiful bark washes away. But unless we’re in a competition, our choice is to trade bark for juiciness, especially when you’re pulling.

If, on the other hand, you prefer a nice bark, instead of wrapping around the shoulder, leave it as is and increase the smoker’s temperature from 250° to 275°F to push through the shed. The trade-off is that you will create a spectacular bark, but the flesh will not be as juicy. However, it will still be amazingly satisfying.

Pre-seasoning Rub

Makes 1 cup


  • ½ cup kosher salt
  • ¼ cup ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Ac’cent flavor enhancer


1. Combine the salt, pepper, and Ac’cent in a small food-safe container. Cover and shake to combine.

2. Store at room temperature for up to 3 months.

Pig Beach All-Purpose Barbecue Seasoning

Makes about 1 cup


  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup sweet paprika
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2½ tablespoons coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
  • 1 tablespoon granulated onion
  • 2 teaspoons Hatch red chili powder (see BBQ Bits & Pieces)
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground fennel seed


1. Combine the granulated sugar, paprika, brown sugar, salt, pepper, garlic, onion, chili powder, oregano, cumin, thyme, and fennel in a medium bowl and stir to combine completely.

2. Transfer to a spice grinder or food processor and process into a coarse blend.

3. Transfer to a glass jar, cover and store in a cool, dark place for up to 6 weeks.

BBQ Bits and Pieces: Hatch chile powder is an earthy, slightly spicy and deeply flavored seasoning made from chiles grown in the Hatch Valley of New Mexico. It is available in both red and green varieties and is available at specialty stores or online. At Pig Beach we only use the red variant.

Tri-Tip Rub

Makes 1 cup


  • ⅓ cup ground black pepper
  • ⅓ cup granulated garlic
  • ⅓ cup sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground dried rosemary


1. Combine the pepper, garlic, paprika and rosemary in a small bowl and stir to mix well.

2. Transfer to a food-safe container, cover and store at room temperature for up to 1 month.

All Purpose Barbecue Spritz

Makes 3 cups


  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup of water


1. Combine the apple juice and vinegar in a medium bowl. Add the water and whisk to combine.

2. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and use immediately or refrigerate for up to 1 month.

Spicy Hatch Vinegar Barbecue Sauce

Makes 2 cups


  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar
  • ½ cup apple juice
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¾ teaspoon chili flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon Hatch red chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon Ac’cent flavor enhancer


1. Combine the vinegar, apple juice, and ketchup in a large, non-reactive, food-safe container.

2. Add the sugar, salt, pepper, chili flakes, chili powder and Ac’cent.

3. Blend with a stick blender until smooth.

4. Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

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